Australian fighting machine Kerry Foley believes his extensive MMA training with Kiwi bruiser James Te Huna will help his return to the boxing ring this month.
Foley takes on rising New Zealand light-heavyweight Robbie Berridge in Sydney on February 19.
It's a grudge match after the pair battled it out for a controversial draw in Sydney in 2011.
Berridge, dubbed "The Butcher", floored Foley twice but couldn't get the decision over six action-packed rounds.
While Berridge's boxing career has blossomed, making him New Zealand's best prospect behind exciting young heavyweight Joseph Parker, Foley hasn't been in a boxing ring since then.
He turned his attention to the growing sport of MMA, winning his three fights by knockout.
He was heavily influenced by Te Huna, the Sydney-based Kiwi who has been making a name for himself in the tough world of the UFC.
They shared the same Penrith gym with Te Huna showing Foley the secrets to the floor work required inside the cage, while Foley helped Te Huna with his boxing skills.
"James is a great guy. I love him to death, he always had me on board doing all the training he did to naturally fit into MMA," Foley said.
"It was something new. I was recovering from some pretty big boxing injuries and the gym where I was training at the time was big into MMA and James was there.
"I did many, many rounds sparring with him, helping him with his handwork. We helped each other out."
Despite his success in his new venture, Foley always went back to his strengths to win his fights. "My attack was still my hands in the cage, I was still a boxer in there. I was just very defensive in all the other parts. All my finesse was happening with my hands."
Foley said he came to the realisation that boxing was still his game, hence his return to the ring where the 26-year-old believes he has the ability to reignite his career.
"It's my sport, mate, it's a better sport, it's a gentleman's sport as well. It's more professional.
"There's too much ego involved [in MMA]. The younger generation just want to see fighting for the blood. I just prefer boxing. It's more pure.
"I spent 10 years in the boxing ring. I'd need to put another 10 years into MMA. Where I am now with boxing, in the next couple of years I can get a world title to be where I want to be."
He believes this fight, where the Kiwi will put his PABA belt on the line, is an ideal opportunity to get back into the boxing mix with a bang despite Berridge's obvious development since their last meeting.
"It's a perfect fight to take. I've been in the cage and had success but my boxing career stayed where it was. I can get it all back . . . I can take what Rob has had in the last two-and-a-half years in one fight.
"Yes, he's going to be a better boxer, he's had a lot of fights. But I've improved as well. Being in the cage has given me skills for the ring. I've still been boxing every day because, as I said, that's my attack.
"He's improved but he's still not a very skilful fighter. That's his style - he's a brawler, he's tough, but there's not much skill to him."
Berridge and Foley are the main undercard on a night headed by the International Boxing Federation Pan-Pacific middleweight title fight between three-time world champion Daniel Geale and World Boxing Association No 13 Garth Wood.
- Sunday News
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